A Mé­gane for ev­ery­one

French man­u­fac­turer Re­nault has re­leased three new Mé­ganes set to com­pete with pre­mium brands like the VW Golf, and it might just be up to the chal­lenge, writes Ané Theron

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Re­nault has re­cently up­dated its strik­ing Mé­gane range, aimed at im­age-con­scious, tech-savvy in­di­vid­u­als. Al­though the French car man­u­fac­turer falls into the non­premium brand cat­e­gory, its new Mé­gane is hell­bent on com­pet­ing with VW’s Golf, the BMW 1 Se­ries and the Mercedes-Benz A-class. And it has good rea­son to do so.

The fresh-faced Mé­gane range now com­prises three de­riv­a­tives with two new en­gines. The en­try-level Mé­gane Dy­namique 81kW (R249 900) will keep its 1.6-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine. Sadly, the 1.6 dCi turbo-diesel model is a thing of the past in South Africa.

The other two, the Mé­gane GT-Line Turbo 97kW (R279 900) and the GT Turbo 162kW (R329 900), were avail­able to the press.

The first Re­nault we sam­pled at the launch in Gaut­eng was the Mé­gane GT-Line Turbo 97kW with its 1.2-litre tur­bocharged en­gine. Al­though it boasts im­pres­sive per­for­mance fig­ures, in real driv­ing con­di­tions, its en­gine was unin­spir­ing and had un­mis­tak­able tur­bo­lag, which means you hit the ac­cel­er­a­tor and the mes­sage to the en­gine feels de­layed. But it does spring to life even­tu­ally and the power sac­ri­fice is worth Re­nault’s fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure of just 5.4 litres per 100km.

So if you’re not shy of stir­ring the sixspeed man­ual gear­box and value fuel econ­omy over per­for­mance, the GT-Line of­fers good value for money.

On day two, we had the plea­sure of driv­ing the frisky 2.0-litre Mé­gane GT Turbo 162kW, which packs con­sid­er­ably more punch. This Mé­gane is aimed at souls who need some­thing sporty and pow­er­ful with­out having to pay through the nose for fuel. In Re­nault’s words, it of­fers “spir­ited per­for­mance for ev­ery­day use”.

The chas­sis and sus­pen­sion are tuned for com­fort­able driv­ing even though the car has the same low­pro­file tyres as the per­for­mance ori­en­tated Mé­gane RS Luxe.

At the Tarl­ton In­ter­na­tional Race­way near Krugers­dorp, I weaved between or­ange cones and was very im­pressed with the GT Turbo’s agility and sure-foot­ed­ness.

To com­pete with the pre­mium brands, Re­nault has filled ev­ery Mé­gane to the brim with safety and tech specs. All Mé­ganes are fit­ted with a Tom-Tom GPS sys­tem.

Our GT Turbo model had gor­geous, two-tone leather seats of dove-grey and black, op­tional for R12 000 ex­tra. The build qual­ity is top-notch and the con­tem­po­rary cabin feels rather lux­u­ri­ous. Rear vis­i­bil­ity is not great so the stan­dard rear-park­ing sen­sors come in handy. All Mé­ganes are fit­ted with en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly stop-start tech­nol­ogy, which means the en­gine cuts out if the car comes to a stop and restarts as one pulls away.

Safety fea­tures in­clude ABS brak­ing with EBD, an­ti­whiplash head­rests, four airbags, sta­bil­ity con­trol and ESP with an­ti­s­lip reg­u­la­tion. All three ver­sions are avail­able as hatch­backs or coupés, at the same price and with the same spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Each Re­nault comes with a fiveyear/150 000km war­ranty and a stan­dard five-year/90 000km ser­vice plan with 24-hour road­side as­sis­tance.

TEST-DRIVE

Ané Theron

dur­ing the Mé­gane launch near Krugers­dorp, Gaut­eng

CRUIS­ING Re­nault has filled its new Mé­gane range to the brim with safety and tech specs

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